General Motors, Niron sign strategic agreement to jointly develop rare-earth-free motor magnets

Strategic Partnerships

General Motors Ventures has invested an undisclosed sum in Niron

Source: General Motors

Legacy carmaker General Motors announced Nov. 8 that it has completed a strategic partnership agreement with Niron Magnetics of Minneapolis. The two companies plan to jointly develop Niron’s clean earth magnet motor technology that can be used in the carmaker’s future electric cars. In addition, General Motors’ venture capital unit, General Motors Ventures, has also made an investment in Niron, which will join the ranks of its 30-plus portfolio companies, the company said, adding that the investment will support the scaling of Niron’s manufacturing and commercialization of its sustainable magnets.

Niron has developed the world’s first and only permanent magnet with automotive-grade power that is entirely free from critical materials, including rare or heavy rare earth minerals. Niron’s proprietary "clean earth magnet" technology is based on iron nitride, an abundant and affordable material with great potential for commercial use in future electric vehicles, General Motors said in its press note dated Nov. 8.

It is known that the permanent magnets in EV motor rotors are typically made from rare earth minerals like terbium, dysprosium, praseodymium and neodymium, which are expensive and mainly processed outside of North America.

In context of this strategic cooperation with Niron, General Motors said that EV motors are a key element of its Ultium Platform and that Niron’s clean magnet technology offers a great opportunity to reduce cost and environmental impact compared to traditional magnet materials while localizing its EV supply chain in North America.

Commenting on making a new investment in Niron, General Motors Ventures President Anirvan Coomer said, “We believe Niron’s unique technology can play a key role in reducing rare earth minerals from EV motors and help us further scale our North American-based supply chain for EVs. Our path to an all-electric future will be enabled not only by our own research and development efforts, but also by investing in next-generation technology from startups and established companies outside our four walls.”

Adding to that, Jonathan Rowntree, CEO of Niron, said, “[General Motors] invented rare earth permanent magnets nearly 40 years ago, and now we’re working together to bring the next generation of automotive magnet technology to market. We think that our Clean Earth Magnets can help [General Motors] in its goal to put everyone in an EV.”

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